Last week on the 17th I attended some workshops at Melbourne Museum (MM) about various aspects of caring for a collection. I learned about safe handling procedures for collection items, what goes into the process of loaning and how to effectively use an image repository.
Collection Care, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

The biggest thing I got from safe handling procedures is to think ahead:

  • Is it absolutely necessary to handle the item directly?
  • Could tasks be brought to the item instead?
  • If the item does need to be moved have you done a dry run first to locate all hazards?
  • What equipment will you need to move the item?
  • Do you know who to contact if anything goes wrong?

I always knew that loaning items from a collection would be a complicated process but it was also good to learn what is expected from curators in that process too. Where I thought the process was handled start to finish by loan managers, it is actually the curator who initiates a transaction by approaching another curator, person or institution about possibly loaning an item they have. To me this means a curator needs to know more than just his or her collections and must have good interpersonal and communication skills too. At MM it is also the responsibility of the curator to initiate an investigation if they notice an item has been damaged in transit.

As I am doing an internship at Museum Victoria (blog post coming soon) I was interested in how to fully utilizes their image repository, MV Images. MV Images is used in-house, for marketing, Collections Online and probably a few other things of which I am unaware! In this collection care workshop I watched Museum staff learn the value of setting metadata to their images and how metadata helps to make their search experience better. It really was quite a beautiful thing to see! However, I was also made aware that processes which seem everyday to a library student, like proper metadata, are foreign concepts to the majority of people. This knowledge heightens my appreciate for the constant training which information professionals should be providing for their users.

Further Info

Museum Victoria – Caring for our Collections
Museum Australia – What is collection care?
National Museum of Australia – Caring for the Collection
Connecting to Collections Care – Collections Care Basics: Where do I begin?

Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome)